Consul Greene to the Assistant Secretary of State.

No. 47.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy1 of an unofficial communication, dated October 13, 1909, addressed by the Russian consul general for Harbin, Mr. N. Poppe, to Mr. Gordon Paddock, who was then in charge of this consulate, asking for some suggestion as to how the municipal taxes might be collected from Americans pending the elaboration of the new regulations.

I also inclose a copy1 of Mr. Paddock’s reply, in which he states that he is not authorized to recognize the present municipal council, and therefore can not give a definite answer.

It will be noted that Mr. Poppe states that the Japanese, Chinese, French, and Germans are paying the taxes, the last named under protest. This statement appears to be misleading. The Japanese acting consul general, Mr. M. Ono, informs me that some Japanese are paying the taxes, but that many are not, and that he is not enforcing payment for the present, as he is awaiting instructions from home. He said that the Nichi-Man Sho-kai, who are agents for the South Manchurian Railway Co. here, and occupy premises belonging to that company, have declined to pay the taxes, and he understood that the Mitsui Bussan Kaisha also was not paying. The Chinese are paying the taxes, as I learned from direct inquiries, confirmed by the statement of the Tao-t’ai of Harbin. The German acting consul tells me that he thinks all the German residents have consulted him on this matter and that, so far as he knows, none of them are paying [Page 225] taxes. The French have not taken such a strong position and have suggested the desirability of paying on account and leaving the final adjustment until the question of the administration is settled. As a matter of fact, however, the French consular agent tells me that no payments have yet been made by French citizens. Some of the French protégés, principally Ottoman subjects, have paid, but others have not. In fact, the French Government has protested to the Russian Government at St. Petersburg against the forcible collection of such taxes last year from a distillery operated by an Ottoman subject. The railway administration has prepared, at the request of the consular agency, a list of the taxes which it wishes to have paid by French citizens, and this list will be forwarded to Peking for the consideration of the French minister.

In view of the fact that the letters referred to herein were nominally personal, I will add that they are transmitted with Mr. Paddock’s approval. The Russian consul general’s letter was doubtless written with the purpose of ascertaining the position of this consulate prior to the arrival of the Russian minister of finance.

The general manager of the Chinese Eastern Railway, Maj. Gen. Horvath, was to meet the Tao-t’ai on the 14th instant to begin the discussion of the detailed regulations, to be based on the preliminary agreement of last spring, but at the last moment the Russian consulate asked that the conference be postponed on account of the indisposition of the general. Since then Gen. Horvath has appeared in public more than once, but the negotiations have not yet been opened.

I have, etc.,

Roger S. Greene.
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